Sebastiano Tusa (1952-2019)

It is with sorrow and sadness that we heard yesterday of the sudden death of Sebastiano Tusa, at the age of 66, in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash (Sunday March 10th, 2019).

Son of another remarkable figure in archaeology, Vincenzo, Sebastiano had been archaeologist in the Sicily Superintendency for almost 40 years, contributing with an intense activity to the protection of the Archaeological Heritage and to the development of advanced scientific research in Sicily, both personally, and in collaboration with international Institutions and research bodies. He played a fundamental role, since 2004, in creating and then directing the Sea Superintendency of Sicily, a unique institution in Italy, at the forefront of conservation and research. Sebastiano Tusa also taught courses in different Universities and took part to international projects. At the time of the crash, he was heading to Kenya to present his vision and the collaborative project he led in the country at a conference organised by Unesco on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage for sustainable tourism development in Eastern Africa. He was a member of EAA since 1997, and a participant at our Meetings, where he actively and enthusiastically communicated the results of his research. Since last year, he had assumed the political responsibility of the Cultural Heritage of Sicily, as Assessore della Regione Sicilia, with a clearly-defined programme, aiming, among other targets, at the development of the Archaeological Parks, of renewed research and of a strong integration of cultural and natural heritage. Again he was the first archaeologist to hold such an important position in a region like Sicily, with its richness and fragility. His strategy had already had a sensible positive impact.

He will be certainly a known person for many of us, and his attitude, and capacity will be missed and remembered.

Sebastiano Tusa in memory by Kristian Kristiansen

I was shocked and saddened by the terrible news that our colleague and my old friend Sebastiano Tusa was killed in the terrible flight accident in √Čthiopia two days ago. Sebastiano invited me to excavate in Sicily in the mid 1990s, and we, me and Christopher Prescott with our families, first went there in 1998 to visit the site of Monte Polizzo, which we only found after some difficulties. This became the start of a wonderful and productive project, located in Salemi in western Sicily, where Sicilian, Scandinavian and American teams collaborated in one of the biggest international and interdisciplinary projects undertaken at an indigenous site of the Elymians. First we hoped it be Late Bronze Age because of a hoard find there, but it turned out to be a fully preserved settlement of the ELymians during the 6th century BC, that had been burned down only after 40-50 years. Many publications and PhD followed from the project and much research is still in progress.

Sebastiano and I shared many wonderful times together in Sicily as well as in Gothenburg and Rome at planning meetings there. He was a modern, progressive archaeologists who wanted to introduce modern methods to Sicilian archaeology, and he also reformed the underwater archaeology. Last time we collaborated was when Sebastiano provided Bell Beaker samples to our big Bell Beaker collaborative genetic work published in Nature 2018. We are a large group of collaborators and friends from our Monte Polizzo project who will mourn Sebastiano, and then after a while the many good memories of his easygoing and friendly style will make us smile. We shall never forget Sebastiano Tusa.

In friendship and respect

Kristian Kristiansen